Homemade Beef Pho

Homemade Beef Pho

The more J and I cook at home, the more we find amazing recipes of meals we once thought were super complicated and therefore only available in a restaurant. Pho is one of those dishes. With the complexly deep flavors and food coma inducing warmth, we were sure we couldn’t make it in our own kitchen. We were so wrong. J found this recipe from Sarcastic Cooking (love!) and it was dead on. We adjusted a few things to our taste and suggest you do too.

Ingredients For the Broth:
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (we used vegetable)
2 Yellow Onions, halved (we ended up quartering them)
1, 3-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, halved (we left this whole but kind of crushed to infuse more flavor)
2 Cloves Garlic (we used minced)
4 Quarts Low-Sodium Beef Stock
In a tea ball we put: 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken),  3 Star Anise Pieces, 3 Whole Cloves
⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Button mushrooms (we used about a cup sliced)
If you do not want to invest in cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves, some stores sell pho seasoning packs. But it’s worth it to have your own, plus, with a tea ball removing it is simple!

Ingredients for the Pho:
1, 12-Ounce Package of Bahn Pho or Udon Noodles (Flat Rice Noodles) These ended up being hard to find so we just used glass noodles (thin rice noodles).
1 Pound Flank Steak or charcoal steak
2 Thai Chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced (we left these out)
2 Handfuls Bean Sprouts (fresh is crunchier and we loved it!) 
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Bunch Fresh Mint
½ White Onion, sliced paper-thin
Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce for Serving
Lime Wedges for Serving

Directions:
Fair warning, these directions look complicated, but really aren’t. Promise.  In a large stockpot, heat the  oil over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and garlic when the oil just starts to simmer/shimmer. Cook, turning a few times, for about 10 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 50 minutes and up to 3 hours if you like a richer flavor. (It is absolutely worth it to let it simmer for 3 hours, do that). After desired taste is reached, strain broth (we didn’t strain the broth, we just removed the tea ball of spices) and add back to the pot. Note: If you are not serving the soup right away, you can store the strained broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

This is the best trick ever: Place the beef into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This makes it easier to slice.  Bring the broth to a slow simmer over low heat. Add rice noodles and cook according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, remove pot from heat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thin as possible. Ladle some broth into a few deep bowls. Add noodles to bowls. Serve Sriracha, bean sprouts, herbs, onions, lime wedges, and beef on the side so each person can add in what they want to their pho.

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My opinion:
This makes a lot. Enough for three of us to have two large bowls each and quite a bit left over. It’s in the freezer waiting for one of those cold, rainy late fall days when soup sounds best. I love this dish. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. 

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Mongolian Beef

The secret behind good Mongolian Beef is apparently a super heated wok to caramelize the beef. While we can’t recreate a super heated wok, J came very close to mimicking the flavors modifying this recipe from Big Oven using brown sugar.

Ingredients:
lbs Flank Steak cut into strips
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 bunch Green onion, sliced

Sauce
1 tbs Vegetable oil
1 tbs Ginger, minced
3 tbs Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Brown sugar

Directions:
Put cut up steak into a plastic bag along with corn starch. Shake well to coat and let sit for 10 minutes. In small sauce pan, heat 1 Tbs of oil until hot. Add red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic. Saute briefly making sure not to burn. Pour in soy sauce and water, then add brown sugar. Boil sauce for 2-3 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in wok or large skillet. When oil is hot, add beef and stir fry until brown and cooked through. Add sauce and green onions. Cook for 1 minute. Do not leave in pan too long or the sauce will thicken from the corn starch.

My opinion:
This rivals the best  restaurant prepared Mongolian Beef. Fair warning, though, if you do have left overs, the cornstarch will make the gravy congeal in the container. It’s still tasty the next day, just with thicker sauce.

Chinese Pepper Steak

Our culinary tour through Asia continues with this dish. Easy enough for a weeknight meal, there was more than enough left for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:
1 lb Flank steak diagonally cut (we used flat iron steak because the local grocery was out of flank)
For the marinade:
1/4 cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dry sherry
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup Water
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Ginger root peeled, grated (we used a little more)
2 Scallions chopped
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 large Onion, cut into squares
2 Green peppers, cut into squares (we used a red one we had on hand and needed to eat)

Directions:
Marinate steak for at least 15 minutes, longer is better.  Add oil to hot wok. Stir  fry garlic, ginger and scallions for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon to reserve the marinade, remove half of the meat and stir fry for 3 minutes.  Remove and set aside. Repeat with remaining steak. In the same wok, add oil and stir fry the onion and green peppers for 2 minutes.  Push vegetables to sides of wok.  Add marinade to center of wok and stir until thickened and bubbly. Blend in  vegetables, add steak and heat thoroughly (about 5 minutes).

My opinion:
The right blend of savory and sweet, this dish is lovely with a side of jasmine rice.

Modified from this recipe on Big Oven.

Easy Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

This is simple flavorful and super easy to make.

Ingredients:
Flank Steak, sliced against the grain
1 cup broccoli
1 medium onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
splash lemon juice (to taste)
splash rice wine vinegar (to taste)
1 tbs vodka (optional)
1 tbs Sriracha sauce (optional)
1 tbs peanut oil
white rice

Directions:
Mix the soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha sauce and vodka in a small dish. Wisk together to combine. Pour about half over the sliced flank steak. Let marinate at least an hour.
Heat oil over medium-high heat. Sautee the onion. Add the flank steak and marinade. Cook until desired doneness. Add the broccoli and red pepper. Sautee about 3 minutes. Pour the remaining marinade over the dish and stir to combine. Let cook down another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over rice.

My opinion:
The vodka makes the meat super tender and the Sriracha sauce adds a bit of heat. This is a staple in our house, especially when we aren’t feeling very creative. If you change the marinade, add honey for example, the entire flavor profile changes, so it is like a whole new dish!